A Social Network for Tech Pros
Kristin Burnham, Infoworld 3272 Times 1223 People

The lack of skilled IT workers is hurting the deployment of emerging technology, according to a new survey from Gartner. In areas from cloud to cybersecurity, this crisis is expected to last for years to come.

"I saw how tech professionals were using Twitter as a social RSS where they'd look to experts and thought leaders at other companies to get an understanding of what news and content was interesting,"she says. "But there's a content problem -- there are so many publications and so much content to sift through that it's hard to see what's relevant and what matters."

Quibb is MacPherson's answer to that problem: a social network for likeminded tech professionals where they can share work-related news, discuss what matters and see what colleagues are reading. "People today aren't necessarily interested in where news comes from; they place a higher value on content that's endorsed and shared by their peers,"she says.

Over the past two years, Quibb has grown to include thousands of users from more than 26,000 startups and companies. The site, MacPherson says, already has an active, loyal following, with 50 percent to 60 percent logging on weekly.

How to Get on Quibb
MacPherson takes membership seriously: You need to apply to join Quibb -- with either your Twitter or Google account, your name, the company you work for and your role. Just 41 percent of applications are accepted -- and she vets each one herself. The vetting process, she says, has been key to maintaining the quality of the content and conversations that are shared.

"Early on, I'd take two or three minutes to look up each person on LinkedIn, see whether they have a blog, use Twitter and actually work at the company they say they do,"she says. "Now I use some simple tools that I built to help me run queries on each applicant to weed out stuff like people who apply with fake names."MacPherson says now she spends just 5 to 10 minutes a day approving applications.

Once your application is approved -- which MacPherson says is likelier if you apply Monday through Thursday, since she doesn't approve applications on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays -- you'll be brought to your main feed, which displays links and commentary from people you follow. If you use Twitter to apply to Quibb, for example, the site will automatically follow your Twitter connections who also use it.

What you will find in your Quibb feed and how it works
In addition to links that your connections share, your feed is populated with content that your connections have liked or commented on. "That's the idea behind Quibb -- you want to read what other people are reading, even if it's something your connections didn't exclusively share,"MacPherson says.

Similar to Facebook, each item in your feed is actionable: You can like, comment on and tweet links that are shared via buttons below the piece of content. You might also see, "X person checked this out,"which indicates that your connection clicked the link. For content you share with others, Quibb will show you who looked at it, their title and where they work, which MacPherson says is one way it differentiates itself from sites like Twitter and LinkedIn.

"Sometimes sharing content on Twitter or LinkedIn is like yelling into a black hole -- you might see that five people clicked a link, but who are those people and do I care that they looked at my content?"she says. "Quibb shows you the names and the job title and company for the people who look at your content. That level of granularity on feedback makes it feel a lot more relevant."

All your actions on Quibb are public -- there are no privacy settings. That means that links you click might show up as activity in your followers'feeds. MacPherson says that while a few users have voiced their desire for privacy settings, it hasn't been an issue for most.

"You're viewing content related to work, so it's nothing embarrassing,"she says. "But you might want to stay away from sharing or clicking content about quitting your job gracefully or what to do if you fail to raise a round of funding for your startup."

While sharing, commenting on and reading content is at the heart of the site, there are a few other features worth mentioning. Clicking the "Write a post"button lets you create a post that's shared with your followers. MacPherson says that most people use this feature to ask their followers a question or for advice.

There's also the capability to direct message someone you're following: Visit their profile, and type your message into the box below their bio. Note that these conversations are public. In addition, you can search for particular people or content on a specific topic by using the search bar in the main menu.

All Quibb members are subscribed to a daily email digest of the top links that were shared. While the frequency might turn off some users, MacPherson says it's actually a popular feature, with a 40 percent open rate. You can unsubscribe from the daily digest by visiting Settings> Email notifications.

MacPherson is hopeful that Quibb will continue to grow as it remains focused on cultivating its community. "There's a lot of content out there, and there's a shift toward individuals as the curators,"she says. "Quibb, I hope, will help people find the content that matters most to them in their role and profession."


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